Ask the experts: What’s the best way to train myself up for a half marathon if I’ve never done it before?

February 21, 2014 - Fitness

marathonAfter your weight loss, you might be considering setting yourself a new challenge and participating in a half marathon, but how do you get yourself track ready if you’ve not tried it before? We got some expert advice.

If you’ve booked yourself into a half marathon, and your running shoes are still in the wardrobe gathering dust, you might be starting to panic. Running 13 miles may seem impossible if you’re currently struggling to run for the bus, but with an expert plan you could be striding out in just 12 weeks.

“If you’ve never run before,” says Kelly Du Buisson, creator of The City Workout, “then it’s best to start from scratch.” The thought of training for a half marathon may be a pretty daunting prospect, but with a sensible training programme, and enough time, it is actually easily achievable.

Build up pace
The key things to remember, according to health coach and presenter Georgina Burnett (, are to allow yourself plenty of time, to seek the advice of an expert and to train regularly. “Remember that recovery is an essential part of your training,” says Georgina.

Kelly agrees, “Build up slowly as going too hard too fast will result in injury and burnout,” she says. “You’ll get bigger results form starting slow and doing the whole session than starting too hard and fatiguing quickly.”

Kelly recommends starting with a run of just 15 minutes three times a week, something that can be easily fitted around your schedule. “Run for one minute and then walk for one minute for 15 minutes. Aim to add an extra five minutes on at every session,” she advises. “When you can do this for 30 minutes increase the intervals to two minutes run and then three.”

Start adding miles
Once you can run at a steady pace for 30 minutes that’s when, Kelly says, it’s time to start thinking about distance and adding miles to your runs. She recommends adding on an extra half mile each week and including one session of interval training to help build your speed.

Jamie Houghton, personal trainer and weight loss expert, recommends a similar programme. “Aim for three running session weekly,” he says, “doing short runs during the week and saving a big run for the weekend. It is also important to include at least one core and leg strengthening workout during the week.”

If you are already running regularly then you can build up your programme by increasing your distance by half a mile every week. Kelly also suggests adding in some interval training to increase your speed by doing three 10 minute sessions at half marathon pace or shorter hill sprints. Whatever level you’re starting at Jamie recommends leaving at least 12 weeks for a comprehensive training programme to make sure you have time to safely prepare for your marathon.